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You can change things - we already have. By advocating for policies, both on campus and nationally, that require the results of research be made openly available and educating those on your campus about the importance of widening access to research results, you can make a real difference in ensuring students, doctors, researchers, and others aren't locked out of the research they need - Learn more about the problem. After all, though we're students today, we're tomorrow's researchers, professors, doctors, professionals, and leaders - it's up to us to make sure that what should be knowledge for all isn't locked up for the gains of a few. Learn more about the solution.
Moves to ensure Open Access are taking hold among research funders, campuses, individuals, and student organizations. Here’s a quick overview of those areas, plus how the Coalition is helping, and where student action is needed now. Just remember, you have lots of choices about how to help and how committed you’d like to be.
In growing numbers, public and private research funders around the world are adopting policies to ensure the results of the research they fund are maximized to the fullest possible extent by requiring timely open online access to related journal articles. These policies have huge implications. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s largest biomedical research funder, funds $29 billion in research each year – which is estimated to inspire 80,000 journal articles every year. As a result of the policy – the first of its kind in the U.S. – those articles are being made openly available online after an embargo period. In the U.S., there are active moves to expand the NIH policy to cover more of the U.S. $60 billion annual taxpayer investment in research and they need student support. (Read more about the Coalition’s work on U.S. policies [link]).
The U.S. is among a growing number of countries which recognizing the need to more fully leverage the taxpayer’s investment through wider research access, dissemination, and use. The Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Research Councils of the United Kingdom, and Australian Research Council are just a few of the public funders taking similar action. Private and non-profit funders are also in the game. The Wellcome Trust in the U.K., the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Autism Speaks, Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance, and others are among the over 200 mandates in place today. Students everywhere can advocate for funder action, and the Right to Research Coalition is actively recruiting international student organizations to lend a hand. (For more information, please contact us).
Research producers – researchers, faculty authors, campus administrators – are also actively exercising their stake in maximizing institution-based investments through open-access policies. All over the world, researchers are voting to enact campus-based policies that require research outputs to be deposited in institutional repositories where they may be accessed freely online – and preserved. Harvard University (departments of arts and sciences, law, business, government), MIT, University of Kansas, Concordia University, University of Hong Kong, University of Southampton, University of Liège. are also just a few of the campuses where faculty are moving en masse to ensure wide exposure of their work. As citizens on campus, students have a clear role in supporting department- and institution-wide OA policies.
Individuals must act in support of collective action. Individuals inspire the collective to move, and have the power to influence even wider change with a little persistence. There are plenty of ways students can advocate and educate for Open Access to everyone around them. It can be as simple as pasting an orange OA sticker to your laptop or starting a conversation with a faculty member of librarian.
As new and emerging authors, students also have the same ability that professors have to ensure Open Access through their publishing decisions. Student and faculty authors can retain their copyrights, deposit in open-access repositories, publish in open-access journals, and more.
Policy action at the student level is also vital and gaining traction. Student governments and organizations are taking steps to exercise their voice, to advocate for policy action by research funders, for OA adoption by research producers, and to educate their peers on the importance of Open Access and creating change. The first step toward making a difference is to join our Coalition by signing the Student Statement on the Right to Research.
There are tons of things you can do to get started, but where to start depends on who you are exactly. Find the group that best fits you below, and explore how you can make a difference:
Individuals are the most important piece in getting students engaged in Open Access. It’s only when individual students choose to educate their peers on the severe barriers to access, the benefits of Open Access, and how to get involved that the student voice for Open Access becomes stronger.
No matter what issues your student organization focuses on, access to research affects your members. Our coalition’s members are incredibly diverse, from large, national groups that advocate on behalf of an entire country’s students to field-specific groups that focus on areas like medicine or political science. Though they may not have much else in common, they all recognize both their members’ need for access to the latest research as well as the great positive impact expanding access will have on areas ranging from medicine to economic development to innovation in small business.
Whether undergraduate or graduate, the students on your campus rely on access to academic journals for their research, education, and professional development. Each of the student governments in our coalition recognizes this need and views expanding access to research as a fundamental part of their mission to advocate for their students’ best interests.
Professors, as role models for their students and as colleagues and administrators, are in a unique position make a real difference in opening access to the results of research. There is no greater way to promote Open Access to research than by setting an example. By adopting open-access practices yourself and encouraging your students to do so as well, you can contribute significantly to ensuring all those who rely on access to research can get what they need rather than just what they or their institution can afford.
As a librarian, you’re undoubtedly already aware of the high price of journal subscriptions and the limitations that places on the serials you’re able to provide to your users. However, you also have a great opportunity, through your interactions with students (and faculty), to educate and inspire them to adopt open publishing practices themselves and get involved in advocating for change.
You may believe high journal prices are an issue confined more or less to the library. You may believe that it’s something students don’t care about. This is far from the case! While the large and growing cost of journals may fail to engage when left in the abstract, students “get” the issue once they understand the tangible effects of those prices on their tuition and their ability to do research.